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Business & Economics

Black Hills Gold Mine Reports Record Financial Year

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Seth Tupper/SDPB
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A portion of the Wharf Mine in 2019.

 

Last year was a good one for the only active, large-scale gold mine in the Black Hills. 

Chicago-based Coeur Mining owns five mines in North America. One is the Wharf Mine near Lead. 

The company recently reported its 2020 financial results. The Wharf Mine generated $72.5 million in “free cash flow,” which is a measure of profitability. It's the highest amount during Coeur’s ownership of the mine. 

The company bought the Wharf mine six years ago for $99 million. The mine has generated $245 million in free cash flow since then. 

Coeur President and CEO Mitchell Krebs talked to investors on a conference call Thursday. He said the company plans to expand the mine and explore for more gold. 

“There’s some opportunity to further extend that, so it’s a great piece of the portfolio,” Krebs said. 

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment met Thursday and approved Coeur’s proposed contractor for a socioeconomic study associated with a planned expansion of the mine. A letter from Coeur to state regulators says the company is “planning a potential mine permit boundary expansion along the southern edge” of the mine. 

Coeur’s 2020 financial report says the Wharf Mine produced 93,056 ounces of gold and 115,000 ounces of silver last year. Both numbers are increases from 2019. 

Coeur’s sales of gold and silver from the mine in 2020 totaled $170.2 million. A South Dakota tax on precious-metal mining and sales generated about $6 million during the 2020 fiscal year. 

The Wharf Mine is a large, open pit near Terry Peak. Miners pile crushed rock on pads and use cyanide to leach out the precious metals. The mine employs about 200 people. 

State regulators monitor Coeur’s activities to ensure it keeps chemicals on-site and restores mined areas to a natural-looking condition. The state holds $95 million in bonds posted by Coeur in case the company is ever unable to fulfill its environmental obligations.